Saturday, October 1, 2016

161. The Wanderer Takes Off Again ...

Traveling for a full twelve months three years ago was a wonderful experience for me and whetted my appetite to do it again - so after much planning and with twenty pages of spread sheet detailing the cities I intend visiting during 2016 / 2017, my Senior's Gap Year #2 has finally taken flight ...


This big bird - aptly named Charles Kingsford Smith - was waiting for me at Sydney airport to whisk me off to lands and adventures on the other side of the planet. And after 32 grueling hours on the go it finally deposited me in the city of men wearing dresses, eating haggis and and squeezing noisy bagpipes ...


... yep you guessed - here I am in Edinburgh - and after that totally unbearable and extremely unnatural episode sealed up in a tin can breathing second-hand air from over 500 fellow travelers, what better way to clear the head and get the body mind and soul back into top gear, than to set off climbing 250m to the highest point in the city -  Arthur's Seat.


Situated just a mile from the city centre in Holyrood Park - and described by Robert Louis Stevenson as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design" - it was quite a bold undertaking by this non-mountaineering tourist to attempt the hike to the summit..


... so far so good - nice easy gentle paved path - nothing too serious happening here ...
 

 ... a fork in the path - which one to take - these giggly hikers decide on taking the left path, so I'll take the right track and follow the other quieter more professional-looking group ...


 ... very pretty landscape - and nice bracing fresh Scottish air filtering into my lungs - heart rate up a beat or two but still a gentle comfortable climb - easy-peezy ...


... oooppps - I spoke too soon - did someone mention steps ... ??? ... not in the tourist brochures Joyce - that terrible grinding bone-on-bone sound echoing down over the glen is my less-than-perfect knees complaining bitterly ...


... after at least twelve million rocky steps and with the heart rate up considerably by now, I reach about half way, passing a few fellow climbers, but mostly being passed by many more show-offs - but I'm still in there with the best of 'em ... 


... finally the steps disappear and the path evens out a bit ...


... no time for resting now - there's a peak to conquer ...


... and finally after a couple of hour's worth of climbing, I reach the summit ...


... and feeling mighty proud of myself too ...
... being the most senior climber on the top by at least a generation or two ...


... wonderful  360 degree panoramas of the city, the bay and the Midlothian plains below ...


... but I must admit, I was hoping to find at least a Starbucks up here - would kill for a coffee ...


 ... and that's the next adventure awaiting me - Edinburgh Castle ...


... and after much heavy breathing to slow the heart rate down - and sitting in the warm sun loving this wonderful view, it was time to consider the way home - there must be an easier path down - don't think I could face all those steps again ...


... my first - and only - sighting of heather ...


 ... there is that path - no steps - not on the tourist maps but, never-the-less heading down ...


  
... did I really climb all the way up there ...


... almost to the base camp - and much needed caffeine - and there to the bottom left is the Palace of Holyroodhouse - and is that the Royal Standard flapping in the breeze - perhaps Liz is home - or at least one of the wee kiddies ... better check that one out tomorrow ... in the meantime it's coffee and food then home to soak the aching feet ... hope you kept up with me ...